The information commissioner says police will be questioned about Nicola Bulley’s health disclosures to ensure they were necessary.
John Edwards stated that personal information should not be “disclosed improperly.”
Three weeks ago, the 45-year-old went missing during a riverside dog walk in St. Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
Lancashire Police was criticized for making her alcoholism and menopause struggles public.
The purpose of data protection laws, according to Mr. Edwards, is “to ensure that personal information is used properly and fairly.”
“Police can disclose information in order to protect the public and investigate crimes, but they must demonstrate that such disclosure is necessary,” he said.
“We acknowledge that at this stage of an intensive, ongoing investigation, the force must devote all of their efforts to the investigation.
“However, given the public nature of this case, we will request that Lancashire Police explain how they arrived at the decision to release this information in due course.”
The home secretary has also expressed concern to the police over the disclosure of private information about the missing mother of two.
According to a source close to Suella Braverman, she “requested an explanation.”
“The home secretary and policing minister receive regular updates from Lancashire Police on its handling of this case, including why personal information about Nicola was briefed out at this stage of the investigation,” said a spokesperson for the Home Office.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Lancashire Police stated that Ms. Bulley had “significant alcohol issues” and “ongoing menopausal struggles.”
This prompted a backlash from activists, lawmakers, and legal experts, some of whom accused the police of violating her privacy.
Later, Ms. Bulley’s family released a statement through the police in which they elaborated on her health, stating that she had experienced significant perimenopause-related side effects, such as “brain fog” and “restless sleep.”
They also urged the public to stop speculating about her private life and to concentrate on finding their “wonderful daughter, sister, partner, and mother.”
The search for Nicola Bulley: the current state of knowledge
Dame Vera Baird, the former victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, stated on BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Lancashire Police had received “heavy and, in my opinion, completely justified criticism.”
“If it was pertinent, it should have been in the public domain from the beginning, but it wasn’t,” she said.
Michael Vincent, the leader of Wyre Council, stated that the case was “clearly unprecedented” and that it was “appropriate that there is an investigation into how the police have handled this, but from what I understand, their actual investigation has been very good.”